Anime adaptations looming

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The Aeon Flux movie was a strong indicator that Hollywood Anime adaptations were approaching quickly.

So around the corner that I'm aware of, are Dragonball Z and Akira.. And a perhaps not to distant Evangelion being handled by WETA.

Akira has been pulled into production largely by Leonardo Dicaprio working as producer. He's hired a new comer to direct - I don't remember his name, but he's certainly been handed an opportunity to make it memorable (hopefully in a good way). Positive reports about this one are that Katsuhiro Otomo (the original creator writer and director) is on as co-producer or exec or something like that. And the film is to be based on the manga, in two parts, encompassing the series of six graphic novels. This is good because the manga is really a much more complete and satisfying story than the anime.

Apparently Peter Jackson has considered handling an Evangelion remake... I suppose that would be positive because he seems to have strong ethics around staying true to source material eg. Lord of the Rings.

Obvious things can be said about ever the wanning originality of many big budget films and the inevitable disgracing of probably more than a handful of adored Japanese stories. But I optimistically want to imagine that some of these adaptations could turn out to be really good and perhaps even milestones in the broadening of cinema and popular culture. Well, pretty optimistic of me I guess. But imagine an Evangelion remake - probably a trilogy - done well and true to the original. I've been trying to figure out how naive it is to hope for something like that... But I feel like it could be amazing.

Without getting heavily into it, I think there is staggering potential in what could come out of the live adaptation of certain anime movies and series. Perhaps equally staggering is the amount of potential that will probably go unrealized, but I don't think you have to be a professional film maker to at least begin to imagine the sorts of incredible scenes that could come out of live action Akira or Evangelion remakes. Beyond the visuals though, I think with anime adaptations, filmmakers have a unique opportunity to push mainstream tastes.

What do other people think?

Sam G, Monday, 7 April 2008 09:38 (thirteen years ago) link

I agree that its a little disheartening, the big problem with this has all been addressed by peter in an essay he wrote quite a while ago, its still on the web somewhere, its a really good read. The gist of it is essentially that hollywood, or the mainstream film industry isn't really interested in telling stories or presenting interesting ideas, its just selling stuff.
So they buy properties (i.e. comics and Japanese animated films ) and adapt them by latching on to the most superficial aspects of the IP and then they are easily turned into other products that can be sold. It was a strange twist of irony, that the very thing that Peter railed against occurred with something that he had created

Voltero, Monday, 7 April 2008 23:56 (thirteen years ago) link

I think "CRUEL twist" would be more apropos ...

But look at it this way; Peter’s contributions to the Riddick, Matrix, and Terminator franchises seem a fitting justice ...

chopsticktrick, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 13:23 (thirteen years ago) link

Maybe thats how change will come, like in the world of music, where many small unknown bands get their careers launched as tour support acts for bigger more famous bands. Like with the Matrix franchise and Animatrix.

nalle, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 14:13 (thirteen years ago) link

Heres Peters essay, The State of Visual Narrative in Films and Comics:

Peter mentions the increasing commercial pressures of the movie industry, which I think are well pointed to by the increasing amount of adaptations being made. But as the more obvious mainstream sources (iconic American comic books characters especially) are becoming exhausted, film industries are turning their narrow perspectives towards what little sources remain that they haven't already devoured. Much of these sources present more complex material than the studios would probably prefer e.g. Akira, Evangelion, Preacher (Aeon Flux) etc. But these are still cartoons and comic books, so they’ll tend to receive the problematic mainstream reputation Peter described. I think it’s a scary and exciting thing because perspectives stand to be crushed and or broadened.

I think what’s crucial is who handles the material, but as Peter points out:

"Comics are regarded as trafficking in stereotypes, and thus, as a source, provide an easy excuse for directors unequipped or unwilling to handle complex characterization." Peter Chung (In the Western mainstream I think animation shares a similar reputation to comic books – although thanks to much Japanese animation and indeed Peter Chung I think the mainstream outlook on animation is improving)

A case in point for comics may turn out to be the new Preacher series coming out of HBO. I’d say there’s more subversion and character complexity going on in the Preacher series than any comic adapted to the screen (although I haven’t read a History of Violence). Its being handled by Mark Steven Johnson who directed Daredevil and Ghost Rider, both of which made a lot of money and fared from bad to worse with critics. I’m not happy to hear about Johnsons involvement although Preacher is surely stronger material than those comics so maybe working with it will help the growth of his art practise.

Such growth may occur at least in the sense that making poor remakes of Preacher, Akira, Evangelion (not so much Dragonball) etc is probably a lot less likely to allow for box office success similar to films like Daredevil and Ghost Rider, because the stories aren’t quite so tailored made for generic action and they lack similarly mainstream fan basis (like Aeon Flux). So critical as well as financial failure could help filmmakers like Johnson perhaps more productively question their methods – or make production companies become more discerning about who they hand future remakes to.

Sam G, Friday, 11 April 2008 01:39 (thirteen years ago) link

peter jackson's camera moves around too much IMO.

derbesy, Friday, 11 April 2008 06:40 (thirteen years ago) link

heres to hoping

Voltero, Friday, 11 April 2008 21:18 (thirteen years ago) link

I thought this place was dead, but I'm glad to see the old crowd still hanging around. That's good because I'll be making an announcement here soon. A very exciting development in the strange, circuitous journey that Aeon Flux has taken.

Peter Chung, Monday, 14 April 2008 03:13 (thirteen years ago) link


Peter, please know that there are still people lurking here. I know I check the board daily for new postings, even if I don't post too often myself.

Thanks for sticking by us here. (Has it been nearly 10 years now?)

Matt Rebholz, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 01:46 (thirteen years ago) link

Yeah I'll likely keep checking back here for years as long as it stays up.

I like the idea big discussions suddenly kicking in again.

Looking forward to news of Aeon!

Sam G, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 05:53 (thirteen years ago) link

Also, Ghost in the Shell rights have been picked up in by Hollywood. That one was surely among the most likely to be remade. Now personally I don't know if a remake of Ghost in the Shell is as likely to offer anything new to the mainstream like Akira or Evangelion could. With Ghost in the Shell I can easily imagine filmmakers adopting a style very similar to the Matrix - which may be wholly appropriate.

If I imagine a Ninja Scroll remake, I think of something following a similar technique and style to 300. Then there's the recent Beowolf method, which offers staggering prospects in the way of action spectacle perhaps allowing filmmakers (those willing) to more easily appease film studios while attempting to do interesting things in terms of characters and story.

Sam G, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 06:28 (thirteen years ago) link

One of the things that made the original Aeon Flux show so great was the extreme positions the characters was positioned in, even in the shorts where the characters didn't speak, they still felt more alive then most other characters you see on TV. I think thats why people love the episode "The Purge" so much. The episode had a great pace with lots of memorable characters - all with a very different part to play in a story ultimately about morale. And in the end, Trevor shows us the bizzar thruth. "Welcome, Welcome all over agin!" sums it up nicely I think...

I hope to see more of that in the new episodes, hoppefully with a bit longer runningtime.

nalle, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 18:34 (thirteen years ago) link

I check for new listings all the time, but don't know what to say.

although I will say that news from Peter really perked up my ears!

Barb e., Saturday, 19 April 2008 05:15 (thirteen years ago) link

"I thought this place was dead, but I'm glad to see the old crowd still hanging around. That's good because I'll be making an announcement here soon. A very exciting development in the strange, circuitous journey that Aeon Flux has taken."

I'm guessing that means MTV commissioned a series of shorts again?

J. F. Aldridge, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 02:29 (thirteen years ago) link


Mark Mars, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 06:10 (thirteen years ago) link

the suspense is slowly killing me.

derbesy, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 09:47 (thirteen years ago) link

Seriously, it's killing me too.
I'm still waiting to get word.

Peter Chung, Thursday, 1 May 2008 04:51 (thirteen years ago) link

good gravy.

derbesy, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 10:11 (thirteen years ago) link

Sam G:
Without getting heavily into it, I think there is staggering potential in what could come out of the live adaptation of certain anime movies and series. Perhaps equally staggering is the amount of potential that will probably go unrealized, but I don't think you have to be a professional film maker to at least begin to imagine the sorts of incredible scenes that could come out of live action Akira or Evangelion remakes. Beyond the visuals though, I think with anime adaptations, filmmakers have a unique opportunity to push mainstream tastes.

The Wachowskis certainly tried to push those mainstream tastes with Speed Racer, which I've just seen, twice in a row, in Imax. At the time of Animatrix, I'd heard that the Ws had been less than enthusiastic about Matriculated. That's odd, because this movie takes hyper-saturated hallucinatory virtual trippiness, combined with free-associative narrative collage to the penultimate level. It's sad that the movie isn't performing well, because I'd love to see them continue to explore this direction, though maybe next time without so many allusions to movie conventions. Working as an adaptation of a classic cartoon that invented many of those conventions, though, it manages to hilariously satirize them while holding fast to the earnestness at the center of the main characters. It's a very tricky balance to strike, and they manage it here with more assurance than they've shown in the Matrix films, which too often tipped over into a level of kitsch that didn't match the ponderous tone of that story.

Anyway, go see the movie. It's really good. And a genuine blast to watch, especially after the past year of dreary, depressing, soul-crushingly pessimistic movies (therewillbeblood, nocountryforoldmen, atonement, zodiac......)

Peter Chung, Saturday, 17 May 2008 15:10 (thirteen years ago) link

Not to say that there aren't times for soul-crushingly pessimistic stories, (and the ones I mentioned are all good movies)-- But after the cumulative effect of all that morbidity, Speed Racer provided a good jolt of inspiration. And I'm ready for an AF story with a happy ending.

Peter Chung, Saturday, 17 May 2008 18:36 (thirteen years ago) link

speed racer was great. benno fürmann (inspector detector) is always great.

derbesy, Sunday, 18 May 2008 01:22 (thirteen years ago) link

Oh, the Wachowski bros were top of my list of directors likely to handle anime remakes and I didn't know they'd done Speed Racer.. I'll have to check that one out. Especially if it might have inspired the first AF with a happy ending.

Sam G, Monday, 19 May 2008 01:07 (thirteen years ago) link

I saw Speed Racer on Imax and loved it. Surprisingly, I even found it all a little touching.

Matt Rebholz, Thursday, 22 May 2008 22:36 (thirteen years ago) link

Personally although I completely adore Aeon, I'm just not much of an anime fan.
After pondering it for a few minutes I suspect that it may actually be because of Aeon that I dont care for most Anime since I will inevitably compare them to Aeon Flux. I've watched pieces of howls moving castle, vampire hunter d, GITS and Akira and I just couldn't get into them. I especially expected to find a new favorite the first time I rented Akira (after Aeon had aired) because of the raves it had received and its reputation. But honestly I found it bland and even worse not particularly original.
The things I enjoy most and that intrigue me are the bizarre, the singular and the unique. Whether it be animation, live action, comics, books or music. I just haven't gotten that from most of the Anime I've seen. They either seem to blend into standard genre examples or I'm constantly spotting where many of the best ideas have been borrowed from. I'm sure there is some stuff that I would love but that are to rare for me to catch passively through american channels. But that being the case, I just haven't "caught the fever" for it so to speak.
Additionally I just can't get excited about "hollywood" adaptions of other media that will been skewed in the translation to the lowest denominator for the most appeal to the widest audience. And since anime is indeed "animation", or "cartoons", it WILL necessarily be dumbed down by pencil pushing money men to be more appealing to 14 year old fanboys.
For all and any of those reasons I personally cant get much more excited about a wave of Anime based adaptions that I can be for the next superhero movie, which despite my fondness for comics is none. But for the sake of Anime fans I do hope at least a few of the final products will be good (like superhero movies), and hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised when I catch one on cable one night and possibly become a fan myself.

robthom, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 06:53 (thirteen years ago) link

Does anyone have any info or comments on "Batman: Gotham Knight"? It seems to me that this project is very similar to Animatrix, which is welcomed!

nalle, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 22:41 (thirteen years ago) link

Sorry about the long wait for this update.
I just received word that Paramount has decided to pass on the revival of Aeon I'd been developing.

Right now, I've got several other projects I'm involved in, which will make new AF episodes unlikely for the foreseeable future. In any case, I'm ready to move on.

Peter Chung, Thursday, 29 May 2008 21:42 (thirteen years ago) link

Well, that's that, I guess.

In any case, I'll be looking forward to your other projects Peter.

Matt Rebholz, Friday, 30 May 2008 13:38 (thirteen years ago) link


Nhex, Friday, 30 May 2008 17:10 (thirteen years ago) link


nalle, Friday, 30 May 2008 17:22 (thirteen years ago) link

a last time for everything...

nalle, Sunday, 1 June 2008 10:37 (thirteen years ago) link

Very upsetting news, sorry Peter. Earlier last week, it had been announced that Time-Life would be releasing a massive 26-disc complete set of The Real Ghostbusters this fall, so I figured with the upcoming AF announcement it would be a fantastic week of entertainment news for me all-around, but no dice.

Peter I'm sure we'd all like to hear any tidbits about how this all happened, specifics on what you were planning, etc., if and when you ever have the inclination.

JuntMonkey, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 19:37 (thirteen years ago) link

The details of what happened aren't important or relevant. Maybe some day.

The story ideas will be worked into future projects.
At this point, I'm happy to immerse myself in something new that reflects my current frame of mind.

Peter Chung, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 23:17 (thirteen years ago) link

Ever since I saw Matriculated I've really just been hanging out for the next project by Peter Chung. Possible new AF episodes were an exciting prospect, but if you have the freedom, Peter, to work the story ideas you had for AF into future projects, thats sounds similarly exciting.

I've just watched the first installment of the new Evangelion Tetralogy. There recapping the series with various changes to structure, animation etc, making it more movie like. It will apparently lead into new storyline picking up from the "End of Evangelion" - And I wonder how altered EoE will be.

Perhaps Anno's attempting to sign post towards his ideal of an Eva live action adaptation.

Sam G, Friday, 6 June 2008 00:21 (thirteen years ago) link

I have to mention a strange dream I had last night, which I just remembered:

Peter, I met you at your home just as it was being invaded by some terrorists/criminals/etc. Instead of fighting back or escaping, you decided to burn the house with the criminals and yourself still inside. The interesting part was that the house contained all the reels of your work, and you intended to die along with them. It sounds grim, I know, but I guess this thread here probably inspired the dream...

Matt Rebholz, Friday, 6 June 2008 00:58 (thirteen years ago) link

Also, along with Sam, I'm not necessarily just an AF fan, but a fan of all your work Peter. In fact, I'm maybe more excited at seeing something new that is not AF. As interesting as it was, that world would just become another constraining setting, in a sense. So nothing is really lost here, in my opinion (except maybe another smidgin of sympathy for the corporate interests that would deny Peter Chung a creative outlet -- Hello!?)

Matt Rebholz, Friday, 6 June 2008 01:06 (thirteen years ago) link

Going back to the original thread topic, I have been working on a new movie of Shotaro Ishinomori's Cyborg 009, as well as doing design work on a live action version of Wicked City. Along with the storyboards I did last year for the upcoming Astroboy movie, that makes three Hollywood "anime" adaptations I've been involved in recently.

Peter Chung, Friday, 6 June 2008 03:49 (thirteen years ago) link

Far out! So are these all being adapted to live action? Or just Wicked City?

I hadn't considered Hollywood might ever do a hand-drawn cell animation adaptation of an anime. But I suppose adaptations to cgi are pretty likely.

Sam G, Friday, 6 June 2008 04:53 (thirteen years ago) link

Peter, those really are animes looming! Live action of Wicked City sounds very interesting.

But doggone it, Aeon Flux no longer even on the back burner, I'm bummed.

Here's hoping this link works.

Barb e., Saturday, 7 June 2008 17:42 (thirteen years ago) link

Yeah, a live action Wicked City sounds quite interesting. I wonder if it will contain sex with manhood stealing demons?

Sam G, Saturday, 7 June 2008 23:29 (thirteen years ago) link

Hey Sam, he's doing Wicked City, not Charmed.

Barb e., Sunday, 8 June 2008 03:08 (thirteen years ago) link

Sam, jk, you know. I fell asleep while Charmed was on the other day, it must be in my subconscious or something,lol.

Barb e., Tuesday, 10 June 2008 15:36 (thirteen years ago) link

Ha ha, Yeah I didn't think Charmed had ever got as hardcore as wicked city .

Sam G, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 06:41 (thirteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...

Thanks for recommending Speed Racer, Peter! I'm not sure if I've ever been swept up in a films climax quite like I was with Speed Racers abstract impressionist finish.

Sam G, Sunday, 6 July 2008 11:47 (thirteen years ago) link

OK. So it's in the trades, so I might as well tell it.
Earlier this year, I got a call from David Fincher saying he'd like to include a 3D animated Aeon Flux short as one of the segments in the new Heavy Metal movie being developed for Paramount. Paramount owns the character, so it seemed like a perfect fit.

I wrote a 12-16 minute script and did designs for a version of AF that would play as a 3D CG R-rated theatrical short. David was very enthusiastic about my story, and I was excited about the prospect of finally doing Aeon unconstrained by both TV budget and content standards. As long as the movie was to be made at Paramount, I was pretty much guaranteed that Aeon would be included in the lineup. Other directors, writers and artists prepared proposals, all of which was compiled and presented to the Paramount execs. It was (and is) an amazing collection of pitch art, the likes of which has rarely been seen.

Paramount passed on the whole package. Heavy Metal 3D may still get made at another studio, but of course, without Aeon.

Peter Chung, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 22:27 (thirteen years ago) link

I should add that working on the pitch was a real privilege and a pleasure, in spite of the end result. Thanks to Tim Miller at Blur studios for all his support, and I look forward to seeing Goon:

Blur did a fantastic job with the intro to the AF game, (although not what the Heavy Metal version would have looked like).

Peter Chung, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 22:42 (thirteen years ago) link

Aww, makes me sad. I do think it's kinda cool that David Fincher had a role in things... he's a favorite director of mine. I kind of consider him an "MTV alum" like yourself, Peter (since he got his start in music videos). I wonder if that played a role in your pairing?

By the way, if anyone likes this sort of high-quality CG stuff, here's a new trailer for the coming Final Fantasy XIII:

I won't speak for the story quality, but I always love the designs for Final Fantasy games.

Matt Rebholz, Thursday, 17 July 2008 02:54 (thirteen years ago) link

I'm not sure I understand, why can't Aeon be included if another studio decide to do the project?

nalle, Thursday, 17 July 2008 20:26 (thirteen years ago) link

Because Paramount owns Aeon Flux. I guess conceivably it could possible somehow to buy the rights for a single project, but I'm sure it'd be a legal nightmare.

Matt Rebholz, Friday, 18 July 2008 01:28 (thirteen years ago) link

As Matt says, it would be a financial and legal liability for another studio to acquire the rights to use the character for a short segment of a feature film. There's nothing in it for them to go to the extra trouble-- unless they could be convinced that including Aeon Flux would increase box office. Plus, most studios already have rights to their own characters which could be repurposed for such use.

For more samples of Blur studio's work, their website has a nice selection. It's just a small fraction of their output.
They are very prolific and versatile, though their definite specialty is superheroes, scifi and fantasy action. You can easily imagine what a 3D R-rated feature from them would look like.

Peter Chung, Friday, 18 July 2008 02:50 (thirteen years ago) link

Looks like Blur has done a lot of video game work, too.

Speaking of trailers and adaptations, surely some of you have been hearing about Watchmen?

I knew nothing about the original book or the movie until just recently, but now I'm really intrigued. What do you guys think? If it's as close to the source material as I hear it will be, this will be a very atypical comic book movie, which will be nice in this period of oversaturation.

Matt Rebholz, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 01:46 (thirteen years ago) link

Also, can anyone say "Demiurge"?

Matt Rebholz, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 01:51 (thirteen years ago) link

That is a real drag about Aeon. Let's hope somehow...someway....

Barb e., Monday, 28 July 2008 03:11 (thirteen years ago) link

Actually, I'd rather see something some of Peter's newer ideas.. *cough Lovula *cough... where can I get one of those T shirts anyway?

Voltero, Tuesday, 29 July 2008 22:16 (thirteen years ago) link

It seems any story for Aeon could be retro-fitted onto another character without a great deal of trouble. I suppose you wouldn't have the established backstory though.

J. F. Aldridge, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 17:45 (thirteen years ago) link

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